Anthony Glees, a professor of international politics from the University of Buckingham, blamed the British government's preoccupation with Brexit, saying it stopped Britain from sufficiently preparing for a virus such as COVID-19, despite warnings from scientists.
LONDON, Oct. 14 (Xinhua) -- Britain had made a "serious error" at the early stage of tackling the COVID-19 pandemic which hammered and devastated the world, a British expert said in a recent interview with Xinhua.
Anthony Glees, a professor of international politics from the University of Buckingham made the comments following a critical report released Tuesday.
According to the "Coronavirus: lessons learned to date" report from the British parliament, Britain's failure to do more to stop the spread of coronavirus early in the pandemic was one of the country's worst public health failures.
The government approach was to try to manage the situation and in effect achieve herd immunity by infection, according to the report. The result was that too little was done in the early weeks to stop COVID spreading, despite evidence from China and then Italy that it was a virus that was highly infectious, caused severe illness and for which there was no cure.
Glees pointed a finger of blame at the British government's preoccupation with Brexit, saying it stopped Britain from sufficiently preparing for a virus such as COVID-19, despite warnings from scientists.
"We know that virtually nothing was done to prepare for this pandemic not least in terms of the provision of protective equipment and especially for protective equipment for care workers," Glees said.
The parliamentary report into COVID-19 highlighted specific failings in Britain with the "preparedness for a pandemic" and the failure from January-March 2020 of non-pharma interventions such as border controls and lockdowns.
In particular, Glees said, the policy of "delay, trying to manage the spread of COVID rather than stop it spreading altogether" was problematic.
A consensus between official scientific advice and the government was "groupthink" which meant Britain was not open to other approaches especially from Asia, said Glees, adding that at this stage the government had made a "serious early error".
Glees suggested that there were many highly qualified scientists who did not agree with the government's approach were kept away from government, and some "scientists" who were ideologically unwilling to accept the need for a lockdown were listened to far more carefully by the government.
"The UK ignored the lessons that could be learned from other countries that suggests to me that all countries, including China, must work together, whether over new viral pandemics, new microbial ones, or even over territory," he said.
"This report is a useful guide for future politicians and government scientific advisers," Glees said.
Even though Britain's failures over COVID-19 are "legion", the country's success in getting the vaccine in people's arms is a great one, said Glees. The report also described Britain's approach to the vaccination programme as "one of the most effective initiatives in UK history".
More than 85 percent of people aged 12 and over in Britain have had their first dose of vaccine and more than 78 percent have received both doses, the latest figures showed.
Another 42,766 people in Britain have tested positive for COVID-19, the highest number since mid-July, according to official figures released Wednesday.
It brought the total number of coronavirus cases in the country to 8,272,883.
Britain is the first European country that passed the grim landmark of 100,000-related deaths. The total number of coronavirus-related deaths in Britain now stands at 138,080.